March 29, 2007
Banjong Pisanthanakun & Parkpoom Wongpoom
GTH 35mm Film
It may be fitting that the last film I see in the country formerly known as Siam is about Siamese twins.
Alone will probably remind more than a few people of Brian De Palma's Sisters. This is announced not only with the subject matter, but with the Thai title, which translates as "twin". Alone is so well done that this is one of the few times that the reminders of other films doesn't get in the way. There is added pleasure to the twists in the narrative that suddenly upend the assumptions of the viewer.
Like Sisters, Alone is about the surviving sister, a formerly conjoined twin. Pim goes from Seoul to Thailand to see her dying mother. At the family home, Pim sees, or perhaps imagines, her dead sister, Ploy. With Pim is her boyfriend, Wee, who we eventually learn orginally encountered the twins when all three were hospitalized. As children, Pim was the outgoing, cheerful sister, while the glass wearing Ploy's mood was darker. Throughout the film are contant visual motifs of mirrors and glass. The inkblot test is a secondary motif. Throughout Alone, the idea is stressed that what we observe may not always be what we think we are seeing, and may be subject to interpretation.
Much of the action takes place in a big, spooky house, the Thai equivalent to a gothic mansion. In one scene, Wee is in a claustrophobic graveyard, surrounded by tall gravestones on a dark, rainy night. Even the music takes its inpiration from other films. At one point, violins are insistently plucked as in Bernard Herrmann's score for Psycho. At another point the score includes women, or perhaps children, la la-ing as they have done for past gialli. A scene with the battling lovers cuaght in a house on fire echoes in particular ending of Roger Corman's Poe films, The House of Usher and Tomb of Ligeia. Both of those films were about houses with extraordinary connections to a dead woman.
Aside from the generally serious tone, what makes Alone different from the standard Thai horror film is the presence of star Marsha Wattanapanich. This is the pop singer's first film role in fifteen years. At 36, Marsha is significantly older than the actresses one usually sees in Thai horror films, but her maturity suggests a greater depth to the film. The filmmakers play with the Thai audiences familiarity with the star - Marsha's nickname is Pim.
Alone marks the last collaborative effort of Banjong and Parkpoom. Their previous film, Shutter, is available on DVD, with an English language remake in the works. Alone is certainly worthy of an international theatrical release. An if there has to be the seemingly inevitable English language remake, maybe Brian De Palma will be the director.
Posted by peter at March 29, 2007 05:38 AM
Good one for thai horror movie, I can say. The movie is something realistic, it's not like general horror movie that I have seen that beyond realistic like the korean movie that ghost haunt people all the time!
Posted by: Penaten at April 15, 2007 09:30 AM